"Reservoir Dogs" is a supremely confident debut feature by writer and director Quentin Tarantino. And just like his follow up "Pulp Fiction", it generated the type of hype that it should struggle to justify. But it remains as shocking, perversely funny, and stylish as upon original release.
The movie has earned itself a reputation as a violent picture and provided a convenient platform for some hysterical media reaction. As is often the case, viewing reveals a different truth. And the classic and sadly underused technique of implied action suggests a more powerful horror than you can actually see.
Many modern directors are too weak and feeble to explore suggested violence. Instead they employ effects-loaded frames of brutality to make their point. Tarantino exploits audience savvy, preferring to build anticipation, mesmerise, and then cut away at the climax, as in the infamous ear-severing scene. Somehow it's horribly effective and lingers far longer than the usual point blank bloodshed that seems compulsory in other movies.
The film essentially revolves around a robbery that has gone wrong. Abandoning the conventional format of natural chronological storytelling, Tarantino creates a tapestry of flashbacks that cleverly build to a conclusion. This allows separate scenes to be showcased as individual vignettes that the cast exploit to the full.
Clearly sure of his chosen format, Tarantino inserts some bravura highlights. These include the dissection of a scene where a shifty Tim Roth goes into a mens room where a gaggle of cops happen to be having a conversation. It's a beautiful example of the film's clever balance of humour and tension.